Anwesh Sahoo

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Anwesh Sahoo
Anwesh Sahoo 02.jpg
Born (1995-07-04) 4 July 1995 (age 23)
Alma materIIIT Delhi[2]
  • Artist
  • Writer
  • Model
  • TEDxSpeaker[3]
  • Blogger
Years active2016–present
Height1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)

Anwesh Kumar Sahoo (born[4] 4 July 1995), often shortened to Anwesh Sahoo, is an Indian artist, blogger,[5] writer, model, actor and a TEDx speaker. He was crowned Mr. Gay World India 2016, becoming the youngest winner of the crown at the age of 20[6]. He represented India at the Mr. Gay World 2016 pageant held in Malta, Europe and made it to the Top 12. He is a recipient of the Troy Perry Award for compassionate activism, making him the first Indian to be honored with the prestigious award[7]. He's a graduate in Electronics and Communication Engineering[8] from IIIT Delhi, and is currently a Master's in Design student at NIFT, New Delhi[9][10].

Early life and education[edit]

Anwesh was born in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on 4 July 1995 to Jagannath Sahoo, an Engineer with NTPC, and Kanak Sahoo, a homemaker. Anwesh grew up in a small township of Kaniha[11] in Odisha. At age 13, he and his parents moved to Noida, Uttar Pradesh. He completed his schooling at Vishwa Bharati Public School in Noida, and has mentioned of multiple instances of bullying[12] throughout his school life in his interviews and blog posts.

In an interview[13] with Gaylaxy Magazine, he said how he had a very good childhood until he started middle school and the bullying intensified. He said his only escape was his books and the dream of acing his 12th boards. He went on to score 95%[14] in his Higher Secondary Exams. He also secured an All India Rank of 15 in the National Institute of Fashion Technology's exam in 2018, and is a student of M.Des at NIFT, New Delhi[9].

He came out as gay to his sister at the age of 16, and by the age of 18 had started writing a blog 'The Effeminare',[15] to combat homophobia in his own little way and create awareness related to LGBTIQ issues in India. He went on to write an article called Under the Lucky Star[16] for Pink-Pages, a National LGBT Magazine in India, where he came out to the readers and later on, also to his parents through the article. In his article he writes, "There is an underlying sense of security that only the walls of the closet can ensure. But then follows the phase of suffocation. The walls that once protected us begin to make us feel restricted. And what follows is the "end of self denial". This is when it all gets better." He went on to write another article the following year for Pink-Pages called 'Growing Up Gay',[17] where he spoke of how contrary to the reactions of people, growing up gay in India isn't half as bad. He continued to write for online forums that same year including 'That Time I Chose To be Gay[18]' for Youth Youniverse and 'Miscellaneous Miley'[19] for Artists at Work Productions' blog.


Sahoo was a 3rd year engineering student[20] at IIIT Delhi, when he was crowned Mr. Gay World India, and at 20 was the youngest[21] contestant at the World pageant. His campaign Fitting Out[22] gained widespread acclaim that year,[23] garnering the highest[24] marks at the World pageant. He was featured by Deutsche Welle,[25] Germany's public international broadcaster where he spoke about coming out in a nation where indulging in homosexual acts could land you in jail.

Post winning Mr. Gay World India, he became a part of the 50 Shades of Gay[26] campaign shot by Shubham Mehrotra and was featured on the Gay Star News[27] that year. He became the first former contributor of Pink Pages to feature on the cover[28] of the magazine in its June 2016 issue. Anwesh later gained mainstream visibility due to a video he shot with Gaysi called Silly Questions Straight People Ask Gay Men[29] that went viral over the Internet and was subsequently featured on numerous Indian and International websites including BuzzFeed[30] India, Cosmopolitan India, Vagabomb and Logo TV's NEWNOWNEXT.[31] Another video featuring him belly dancing to a popular Bollywood number 'My Name is Lakhan' went viral later that year in December, with popular websites and news outlets featuring him including Indian Express,[citation needed] Storypick,[32] Queerty[33] and Vagabomb.[34]

He also works as a writer for Swaddle,[35] a parenting website where he writes on sexuality and gender related issues for parents. Some of his notable works on the site include, "What do you do if you think your child is Gay?",[36] and "Gender and Sexuality Terms: A Sensitive Glossary for Parents[37]". Anwesh has also written of his experience of being bullied online post winning the crown of Mr. Gay India, where he was criticized for not being 'pretty enough' and being 'too dark' to represent India on his blog The Effeminare,[38] which was later published on Gaylaxy[39] Magazine and covered by Pinksixty News.[40] He also organized Delhi University's first pride[41] walk in association with IIT Delhi's Annual fest Rendezvous to create awareness and promote acceptance for the LGBTIQ community. Anwesh has also been photographed[42] by British photographer Olivia Arthur for a photo-series exploring sexuality in Mumbai, India which were later exhibited at the FOCUS Photography Festival, 2017 at Elysium Mansion, Colaba. Anwesh was named as one of the emerging LGBT Role Models[43] of 2016 by Indian Women Blog, alongside transgender rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, and Business Analyst Himanshu Singh.

He was the ambasdor for 'Dance4Pride[44]' event organized by Delhi-based organization Those in Need in association with Scruff in April 2017. He has featured in a social media campaign for Delhi-based brand Poem[45] bags. Anwesh has been a contributor for DNA, India with his article called "The Problem with Stereotypes[46]" which was published on 23 May 2017. He shared his coming out story in the article writing, "The problem with stereotypes isn't that they're wrong, it's that they are incomplete." In July 2017, Sahoo featured in an ad film[47] for Kraftly,[48] an Indian e-commerce platform that specializes in buying and selling of unique products and brands. Anwesh also made an appearance in National Geographic Channel's Explorer Season 10, Episode 12 (uncredited), that released on 22 May 2017. On October 6th, 2018, Anwesh was awarded the Troy Perry Award for compassionate activism, in Los Angeles, California, making him the first Indian to be a recipient of this honor. [49][7]

TEDx Experience[edit]

Anwesh has spoken at 3 TEDx events: TEDxMAIS[50] 2016 (Mallya Aditi International School, Bangalore), TEDxXIMB[51] 2017 (Xavier's Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar), and TEDxCVS[52] (College of Vocational Studies, Delhi University) . At the first event, Anwesh spoke of the need to break out of the Gender Binary. Through the talk, he challenged a world where sex and gender are often used interchangeably when in reality there exists a clear distinction between the two. He imagines a world where one's identity isn't limited to the binary male or female, but can manifest as a spectrum of infinite possibilities.[53] His second TEDx talk, "Tapping into your Alice,"[54] related to growing up in a society that did not know how to deal with those who did not conform to gender stereotypes, in addition to how adulthood drains us of our belief in magic. Anwesh's third talk was called, "How I chose to be gay, femme, and sexy"[55][56], where he spoke of how "Effeminacy and femininity aren't euphemisms for indignity; being gay, femme, brown, being me, is sexy and powerful!"[55].

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ODIA BOY TO REPRESENT INDIA AT GAY WORLD". Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Mr. Gay World 2016 Finalist Was Asked Questions About His Sexuality, His Answers Will Make You His Fan For Life". Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  3. ^ "TEDxXIMB". Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Security Check Required". Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  5. ^ "Anwesh Sahoo selected Mr. Gay India 2016 – Pink Pages". Pink Pages. 30 January 2016. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  6. ^ "Odisha boy Anwesh Sahoo to represent India at Mr Gay World". mid-day. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  7. ^ a b "Anwesh Sahoo Honoured With The Troy Perry Award - FIFTY SHADES OF GAY". FIFTY SHADES OF GAY. 2018-10-09. Retrieved 2018-10-09.
  8. ^ "Graduating Students List | IIIT-Delhi 6th Convocation". Retrieved 2018-01-02.
  9. ^ a b ""And That's How You Grow" : Anwesh Sahoo - FIFTY SHADES OF GAY". FIFTY SHADES OF GAY. 2018-06-26. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  10. ^ "Pahal Toppers Result 2018 - Pahal Design". Pahal Design. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  11. ^ "Odisha's Anwesh won Mr. Gay World India, to represent Gay World". Update Odisha. 28 January 2016. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  12. ^ "Bullied but didn't bow". Deccan Chronicle. 20 March 2016. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  13. ^ Gaylaxy (18 October 2016), Coming Out Story of Mr. Gay World India Anwesh Sahoo, retrieved 2017-05-05
  14. ^ "Meet Anwesh Sahoo, The IIIT-ian Who Rocked The Mr Gay World Show". The Quint. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  15. ^ "THE EFFEMINARE". THE EFFEMINARE. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  16. ^ "Under the Lucky Star – Pink Pages". Pink Pages. 15 June 2014. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  17. ^ "Growing up Gay: Not regretting my past – Pink Pages". Pink Pages. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  18. ^ says, Arjun (22 February 2015). "That time I chose to be gay – By Anwesh Sahoo". Youth Youniverse. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  19. ^ theaawproductions (4 April 2015). "Miscellaneous Miley". Artist at Work Productions. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  20. ^ "Everyone at Mr Gay World wanted my skin: Mr Gay World-India, Anwesh Sahoo". mid-day. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  21. ^ "The new normal". 12 May 2016. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  22. ^ Anwesh Kumar Sahoo (9 December 2015), #FittingOut Campaign, retrieved 2017-05-06
  23. ^ Krishna, Geetanjali (2016-07-02). "Anwesh Sahoo is changing the discourse". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  24. ^ Krishna, Geetanjali (2 July 2016). "Anwesh Sahoo is changing the discourse". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  25. ^ (, Deutsche Welle, Mr. Gay India in a land of contradictions | All media content | DW | 24.02.2016, retrieved 2017-06-16
  26. ^ "How a small town boy became Mr Gay World India – FSOG". Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  27. ^ "Mr Gay India speaks up about Supreme Court's refusal to hear challenge banning gay sex". Gay Star News. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  28. ^ "Pink Pages – July 2016 – Pink Pages". Pink Pages. 11 June 2016. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  29. ^ Gaysi Family (12 May 2016), Silly Questions Straight People Ask Gay Men, retrieved 2017-05-06
  30. ^ "Mr. Gay India 2016 Answered All Kinds of Ridiculous Questions People Have About Gay Men". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  31. ^ "Mr. Gay India Answers Insane Questions From Straight People". LOGO News. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  32. ^ Srivastava, Rachna (27 December 2016). "Mr Gay India's Belly Dance On 'My Name Is Lakhan' Will Make You Go Dhina-Dhin-Dha!". Storypick. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  33. ^ Editors (27 December 2016). "Mr. Gay India's bellydancing skills are on point". Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  34. ^ VagaBomb (26 December 2016). "Mr Gay India Belly Danced to My Name Is Lakhan, Giving Us Our Favourite Dance Mashup of 2016". VagaBomb. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  35. ^ Swaddle, The. "Anwesh Sahoo | Author at". The Swaddle. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  36. ^ Swaddle, The (20 April 2017). "What to Do if You Think Your Child Is Gay". The Swaddle. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  37. ^ Swaddle, The (May 4, 2016). "Sexuality Terms and Gender Terms: A Sensitive Glossary for Parents". The Swaddle. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  38. ^ Effeminare, The (24 November 2016). "Ugly Enough to be Mr. Gay World India". THE EFFEMINARE. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  39. ^ "Ugly Enough to be Mr. Gay World India : The Online Bullying and Abuse That I Faced from the Gay Community After Being Crowned Mr. Gay India – Gaylaxy Magazine". Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  40. ^ OUTtv (22 December 2016), Pinksixty News | Friday Dec 23, retrieved 2017-05-06
  41. ^ "IIT-D holds DU's first pride march – Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  42. ^ "City at Eye Level". The Indian Express. 9 March 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  43. ^ Godhawat, Jayati (2016-12-23). "These People Broke Barriers & Emerged As The LGBT Role Models In 2016". Indian Women Blog - Stories of Indian Women. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  44. ^ "LGBTQ community members dance to dhol beats in flashmob – Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  45. ^ "Ridhima Sekhri Photography". Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  46. ^ "The problem with stereotypes | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. May 23, 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  47. ^ "Kraftly". Retrieved 2017-07-25.
  48. ^ "Kraftly - DeletedWiki". Retrieved 2017-07-25.
  49. ^ "NIFT". Retrieved 2018-10-09.
  50. ^ "TEDxMAIS". Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  51. ^ TEDx Talks (9 March 2017), Tapping into Your Alice | Anwesh Sahoo | TEDxXIMB, retrieved 2017-05-06
  52. ^ "TEDxCVS | TED". Retrieved 2018-03-14.
  53. ^ TEDx Talks (2017-06-14), Breaking out of the Gender Binary | Anwesh Sahoo | TEDxMAIS, retrieved 2017-06-16
  54. ^ "TedX talks inspire". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
  55. ^ a b TEDx Talks (2018-04-10), HOW I CHOSE TO BE GAY, FEMME AND SEXY | Anwesh Sahoo | TEDxCVS, retrieved 2018-04-20
  56. ^ "TEDx CVS". Retrieved 2018-03-14.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
India Sushant Divgikar
Mr Gay India
Succeeded by
India Darshan Mandhana